The Book That… (6)
Derek W. H. Thomas, Guy A. Davies, and Steve Martin agree to answer questions on books that have impacted their life and faith.
* * *
Derek W.H. Thomas is the minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina.
Guy A. Davies pastors two Baptist churches in Rural Wiltshire.
Steve Martin has been appointed the dean of students of a new Reformed Baptist seminary to open soon in Texas.
* * *
The book that I am currently reading…
D.T: Thomas Weinandy, Jesus the Christ, Yes, a Roman Catholic who is astray on soteriology but perfectly orthodox on the Person of Christ and engaging Chalcedon as though your life depended on it. Which, in so many ways, it does.
G.D: Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper. Not a hagiography. The Reformer certainly practiced what he preached when he said we are ‘sinners yet justified’. As do we all.
S.M: I am reading two concurrently. First, Dr. Lloyd-Jones, A Nation Under Wrath (Isaiah 5) and second, David Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (2nd edition).
The book that changed my life…
D.T: That’s easy: December 1971, a friend put into my hands a copy of John Stott’s Basic Christianity. I was a pagan, totally convicted that science had all the answers to life and clueless as to the basics of Christianity. Within three days of reading this book, I became a Christian. I have never doubted the gospel, or its power to save, since that time.
G.D: Prove All Things: The Sovereign Work of the Holy Spirit by D.M. Lloyd-Jones. My first book by a Reformed author. A controversial one, I know. I read it ‘accidentally’, assuming it was from the Charismatic camp to which I then belonged. Opened up a whole new world to me. From there I went on to ML-J on Romans and Ephesians, The Puritans, Evangelical Revival Men, etc.
S.M: Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Authority, and The Plight of Man and the Power of God and Iain Murray’s biography of Dr. Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith (Volume 1 of the biography). I had become a Calvinist by the grace of God in 1976 and was trying to piece together doctrine and ministry. In 1984 I came across Iain Murray’s The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Vol.1: The First Forty Years. I was 35 with two small children and a new senior pastor. I knew no one around me who was a Baptist and confessional and seeking to preach from a Reformed perspective. Murray’s book (especially chapters 5-11) opened my eyes to what a ministry could be under God. I read it every year for twelve years to keep me on target. The slender paperback books by Dr. Lloyd-Jones himself (Authority and The Plight of Man and the Power of God) Also became foundational texts to master and review each year and pray for diligently. Also, R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God , my understanding of God sky-rocketed and my fear of the Lord greatly increased when I read this book and I have returned to it (and shown the videos) many times.
The book that I wish I could have written…
D.T: A tough question that questions my motivation in answering it. Am I saying I wish the kudos that goes along with such a book? Am I saying I could have written this book? But, if you force me to answer,
G.D: Something on the meaning and significance of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. For him and us. In time and eternity. Then I discovered Resurrection and Redemption: A Study of Paul’s Soteriology by Richard B. Graffin, Jr. Already been done.
S.M: An analysis of the revival that took place across the U.S. and the English speaking world from 1965-1975, on college campuses and in churches.
The book that helped me in my preaching…
D.T: Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers. It’s not a ‘how to’ book, but it spelled out something of the romance and dignity of preaching. I met him only a couple of times, but still find myself (just occasionally) sounding like him in a sentence here or there!
G.D: Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, especially on the need to avoid ‘professionalism’ and to seek the empowering presence of the Spirit. Preaching Pure and Simple by Stuart Olyott on the practicalities of preaching the Word; exegesis, sermon structure, delivery, illustration, application.
S.M: Martyn Lloyd Jones, Preachers and Preaching , MLJ’s high view of preaching became mine , pitiful though my preaching may be. Also, J.C. Ryle’s Alive or Dead? Ryle”s pleading with sinners at the end of several of his tracts taught me to plead with sinners and not just give them information in a take it or leave it format.
The book that I think is most underrated…
D.T: Calvin’s Institutes. What? I hear you saying. But yes; for all the talk about it, we probably underrate its comprehensive importance and what influence it had had on theology for the last five hundred years. I think you could read it a hundred times and still not appreciate all that it is saying.
G.D: An underrated author on the UK side of the pond is Kevin J. Vanhoozer. I have found his writings very helpful, including The Drama of Doctrine; Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship; and The Pastor as a Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (the last title edited with Owen Strachan). His theological vision is rooted in the communicative action of the triune God, by which we are incorporated into the great drama of redeeming grace.
S.M: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authority (of Christ, of the Scriptures, of the Holy Spirit) – the only book in print that I am aware of that explains the necessity of the preacher/pastor having the Spirit.
The book that made me say amen as I read…
D.T: The most recent one would be Sinclair Ferguson’s The Whole Christ. Dr. Ferguson is, well, simply the best theologian on the planet on the issue of law and grace. There’s no more to be said.
G.D: Devoted to God by Sinclair B. Ferguson. A fine treatment of sanctification. Exegetically insightful and excellent on the interplay between the indicatives and imperatives of the gospel. A book that makes one long to be as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.
S.M: Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness , I left a para-church ministry because I became a Calvinist and in rejection of its Keswick doctrine of sanctification. I then cobbled together my own doctrine of sanctification and the Bible. Jerry Bridges filled in the blanks and introduced me to some of the greats of Reformed Christendom.
The last book that made me weep…
D.T: I’m not really a weepy person, but I re-read the biography of John Paton recently and it was emotionally challenging.
G.D: I found Seven Leaders: Preachers and Pastors by Iain H. Murray really moving and challenging. Especially what Murray had to say on the prayer life and communion with God of characters like John Elias and Andrew Bonar, which so deeply impacted upon their ministries.
S.M: Dale Ralph Davis, The Stump Kingdom (Isaiah 6-12).
The book that I’m most ashamed not to have read…
D.T: Van Dixhoorn’s five volume set on the Westminster Assembly. It cost me a small fortune but I have barely read any of it , yet!
G.D: The City of God by Augustine of Hippo.
S.M: Calvin’s Institutes , I have read in it but not through it. Maybe I can join a Reformed slackers reading group!
The book that I most often give to new church members and young Christians…
D.T: J.I. Packer’s Knowing God.
G.D: I want new believers to get into the Bible for themselves, which isn’t always easy to do. To that end I would urge them to obtain a copy of the ESV Study Bible.
S.M: Peter Jeffery, Believers Need the Gospel; Peter Jeffery, Christian Handbook; Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life; Jerry Bridges, Trusting God.
The book that I give to people thinking of becoming Christians…
D.T: Recently, James Anderson’s Why I Should Believe in Christianity.
G.D: One of the Gospels; usually either Mark or John. Urging that they read the Gospel account with the prayer that God would show them the Living Word through the Written Word. Ultimate Questions by John Blanchard.
S.M: Peter Jeffery, From Religion to Christ and John Blanchard’s Right With God.
The book that I wish I were able to write and would like someone to write…
D.T: A book that explains how effortful compliance to all that God demands of Christians is not legalistic. Kevin de Young’s A Hole in Our Holiness goes some way upwards a solution but we need more.
G.D: Not so much write, but I wish Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, Volumes 1-4 had been translated into English years before they were (certainly not something I could have done). A monumental achievement. Depth and devotion. Faith and reason. Penetration and passion. Showing that the self-revelation of the triune God is an organic whole.
S.M: One about the Holy Spirit in pastoral ministry.
The best book for children…
D.T: Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (and for adults too).
G.D: Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland.
S.M: Marian Schoolland, Leading Little Ones to God.
Books That Will Move You
preachers and pastors
Derek W. H. Thomas, Guy A. Davies, and Steve Martin agree to answer questions on books that have impacted their life and faith. * * * Derek W.H. Thomas is the minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Guy A. Davies pastors two Baptist churches in Rural Wiltshire. Steve Martin has been appointed the dean of students […]
A Letter to a Minister’s Wife November 12, 2019
The following is taken from the excellent Memoir of John H. Rice, W. H. Maxwell (Philadelphia; 1835), pp. 334-337 * * * Union Theological Seminary, Feb. 13th, 1828 My Dear Jane, I have a thousand times purposed to write to you, since your marriage; but have never yet seen the time when I could fulfil my intentions. […]
The First Nonconformist Ordinations in Yorkshire November 8, 2019
The years between 1662 and 1689 witnessed the ejection from the National Church Establishment, and then the persecution of approaching two thousand of the best ministers England has ever possessed. The Act of Uniformity, the immediate cause of their ejection, was soon followed by the Conventicle and Five Mile Acts. The former prevented their gathering […]